63rd Gent-Wevelgem (1.HC)

Belgium, April 11, 2001

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Hincapie: first American win in GW

By Jeff Jones

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George Hincapie
Photo: © AFP

George Hincapie (US Postal) has triumphed in the 63rd Gent-Wevelgem semi-classic, beating Leon van Bon (Mercury) and Steffen Wesemann (Telekom) in a close photo finish. The trio were part of a five man break that escaped with 18 kilometres to go in the 215 kilometre race, with Arvis Piziks (CSC) and Nico Mattan (Cofidis) rounding out the top 5.

Hincapie hasn't won a race since 1999 (First Union GP), although he is often seen in the leading group in the classics. He made no mistake today and was one of the strongest riders in the finale, but anything could have happened with constant attacks coming from Piziks and Mattan. Even when he crossed the line, he was not at all confident that he'd pipped Van Bon, despite assurance by the TV commentators that it was so.

"I want to make sure...really," he said. "I've been needing the win, you know. My directors and the managers had confidence in me. It's been a long time since I won. I know I can win, I have to have everything right. I hope it means more victories to come."

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On the Kemmel
Photo: © AFP

The final selection occurred before the first ascent of the Kemmelberg (approx. 60 km to go), a tough 20% cobbled climb. 14 riders had ridden away: George Hincapie (US Postal), Nico Mattan (Cofidis), Steffen Wesemann (Telekom), Arvis Piziks (CSC), Leon van Bon (Mercury), Thor Hushovd (CA), Daniele Nardello (Mapei), Erik Zabel (Telekom), Romans Vainsteins (Domo), Chris Peers (Cofidis), Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa), Gabriele Balducci (Tacconi), Biagio Conte (Saeco), and Nico Eeckhout (Lotto).

With most of the major teams represented, the break gradually gained a few minutes advantage, and it was certain that the winners would come from it. Nico Mattan was particularly strong, but unable to get clear despite several attacks. He did however make the final move with 18 kilometres to go before Wevelgem, as those behind fought amongst themselves in the cross-winds.

The five worked well and their gap grew to 30 seconds quite quickly, and was hovering at a minute with 6 kilometres to go. Everyone expected Mattan to try and go solo, as he knows the area very well. When the attack came, George Hincapie saw the danger and jumped after him. Latvian champion Arvis Piziks (CSC) launched a strong counter-attack, with Hincapie and Van Bon joining him. This cost Nico Mattan and Steffen Wesemann valuable energy in chasing, but they eventually regained the front three.

Click for larger image
Photo: © AFP

With 500m to go, Piziks went on the left hand side, taking the rest by surprise. Steffen Wesemann did the job to close it down, and may have won had not Mattan brought Van Bon and Hincapie back (with a flat tire as well!). Van Bon could not shake off Hincapie in the final 150 metres, and Big George got him with the throw of the bike.

After the commissaires confirmed his win, Hincapie gave a huge smile of relief. "Now I guess I believe it," he said before recounting the final parts of the race. "It was very tactical - I had to chase down Nico Mattan and a lot of the guys who attacked. I knew that I was strong because I felt good on the Kemmelberg."

And now Paris-Roubaix? "That's one of my main things - Of course I want to win it. I hope to have good luck because anything can happen in Paris-Roubaix."


1 George Hincapie (USA) U.S. Postal Service        5.00.50 (42.881 km/h)
2 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Mercury-Viatel
3 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom
4 Arvis Piziks (Lat) CSC-World Online
5 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis
6 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Lotto-Adecco                    0.41
7 Chris Peers (Bel) Cofidis
8 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step             1.00
9 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom              1.16
10 Gabriele Balducci (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola
11 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
12 Biagio Conte (Ita) Saeco Macchine Per Caffe
13 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Domo-Farm Frites           1.26
14 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo            2.24
15 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Vini Cal    6.03
16 Vjatceslav Ekimov (Rus) U.S. Postal Service
17 Hendrik Van Dyck (Bel) Lotto-Adecco
18 Servais Knaven (Ned) Domo-Farm Frites
19 Franck Renier (Fra) Bonjour
20 Saulius Ruskys (Ltu) Gerolsteiner
21 Davide Bramati (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step
22 Roger Hammond (GBr) Collstrop-Palmans
23 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole
24 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Saeco Macchine Per Caffe
25 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team Coast
26 Mauro Radaelli (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola
27 Oscar Cavagnis (Ita) Saeco Macchine Per Caffe
28 Bert Hiemstra (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus
29 Koen Beeckman (Bel) CSC-World Online
30 Antonio Cruz (USA) U.S. Postal Service
31 Eddy Serri (Ita) Alexia Alluminio
32 Fabian De Waele (Bel) Lotto-Adecco
33 Gian Matteo Fagnini (Ita) Team Deutsche Telekom
34 Jens Voigt (Ger) Credit Agricole
35 Paul Van Hyfte (Bel) Lotto-Adecco
36 Sven Nijs (Bel) Rabobank
37 Mariano Piccoli (Ita) Lampre-Daikin
38 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom
39 Luca Paolini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step                6.11
40 Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus      6.13
41 Philippe Gaumont (Fra) Cofidis
42 Enrico Cassani (Ita) Domo-Farm Frites
43 Nicola Loda (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
44 Remco Van Der Ven (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus
45 Nicolay Bo Larsen (Den) CSC-World Online
46 Tom Desmet (Bel) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus
47 Mario Manzoni (Ita) Alexia Alluminio
48 Christophe Detilloux (Bel) Collstrop-Palmans
49 Raphael Schweda (Ger) Team Coast
50 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank
51 Massimo Apollonio (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola
52 Coen Boerman (Ned) Rabobank
53 Wilfried Peeters (Bel) Domo-Farm Frites
54 Peter Farazijn (Bel) Cofidis
55 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom
56 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Domo-Farm Frites
57 Matthew White (Aus) U.S. Postal Service
58 Jo Planckaert (Bel) Cofidis
59 Franco Ballerini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step
60 Jan Van Velzen (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus
61 Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) Lotto-Adecco
62 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Rabobank
63 Bart Leysen (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step                 7.26
64 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank
65 Piotr Wadecki (Pol) Domo-Farm Frites               7.56
66 Martin Van Steen (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus     8.13
67 Matthé Pronk (Ned) Rabobank
68 Marcel Duijn (Ned) Rabobank
69 Giacomo Battistel (Ita) Alexia Alluminio
70 Grégory Barbier (Fra) Ville de Charleroi-New Systems
71 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Bonjour
72 Gerben Lowik (Ned) Raboank

Past Winners

2000  Geert van Bondt (Bel) Farm Frites       214 kms in 5.01.03
1999  Tom Steels (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step       208 kms in 5.15.53
1998  Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Mapei-Bricobi 208 kms in 5.21.21
1997  Philippe Gaumont (Fra)
1996  Tom Steels (Bel)
1995  Lars Michaelsen (Den)
1994  Wilfried Peeters (Bel)
1993  Mario Cipollini (Ita)
1992  Mario Cipollini (Ita)
1991  Djamolidine Abduschaparov (Usb)
1990  Herman Frison (Bel)
1989  Gerrit Solleveld (Ned)
1988  Sean Kelly (Ire)
1987  Teun Van Vliet (Ned)
1986  Guido Bontempi (Ita)
1985  Eric Vanderaerden (Bel)
1984  Guido Bontempi (Ita)
1983  Teun Van Vliet (Ned)
1982  Frank Hoste (Bel)
1981  Jan Raas (Ned)
1980  Henk Lubberding (Ned)
1979  Francesco Moser (Ita)
1978  Ferdinand Van den Haute (Bel)
1977  Bernard Hinault (Fra)
1976  Freddy Maertens (Bel)
1975  Freddy Maertens (Bel)
1974  Barry Hoban (GB)
1973  Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1972  Roger Swerts (Bel)
1971  Georges Pintens (Bel)
1970  Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1969  Willy Vekenmans (Bel)
1968  Walter Godefroot (Bel)
1967  Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1966  Herman Vanspringel (Bel)
1965  Noél De Pauw (Bel)
1964  Jacques Anquetil (Fra)
1963  Benoni Beheyt (Bel)
1962  Rik Van Looy (Bel)
1961  Frans Aerenhouts (Bel)
1960  Frans Aerenhouts (Bel)
1959  Leon Van Daele (Bel)
1958  Noél Fore (Bel)
1957  Rik Van Looy (Bel)
1956  Rik Van Looy (Bel)
1955  Alberic Schotte (Bel)
1954  Rolf Graf (Swi)
1953  Raymond Impanis (Bel)
1952  Raymond Impanis (Bel)
1951  André Rossel (Bel)
1950  Alberic Schotte (Bel)
1949  Marcel Kint (Bel)
1948  Valeré Ollivier (Bel)
1947  Maurice Desempelaere (Bel)
1946  Ernest Sterckx (Bel)
1945  Robert Van Eenaeme (Bel)
1939  André Declerck (Bel)
1938  Hubert Godart (Bel)
1937  Robert Van Eenaeme (Bel)
1936  Robert Van Eenaeme (Bel)
1935  Albert Debreitere (Bel)
1934  Gustave Van Belle (Bel)

Past winners kept up to date by Mario Stiehl, Berlin